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The Metéora (Greek: Μετέωρα , "suspended rocks", "suspended in the air" or "in the heavens above") is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Kalambaka, Greece and is second only to Mount Athos. The monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Peneios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The Metéora is home to six monasteries and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Please, vote Meteora Rocks as one of the new 7 wonders of Nature – here!
Although it is unknown when Metéora was established, as early as the 11th century AD hermit monks were believed to be living among the caves and cutouts in the rocks. By the late 11th or early 12th century a rudimentary monastic state had formed called the Skete of Stagoi and was centered around the church of Theotokos (mother of God), which still stands today. The hermit monks, seeking a retreat from the expanding Turkish occupation, found the inaccessible rock pillars of Meteora to be an ideal refuge. Although more than 20 monasteries were built, beginning in the 14th century, only six remain today. These six are: 'Great Meteoron (or Transfiguration), Varlaam, St. Stephen, Holy Trinity, St. Nicholas Anapausas and Rousanou. There is a common belief that St. Athanasios (founder of the first monastery) did not scale the rock, but was carried there by an eagle. Access to the monasteries was originally extremely difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This required quite a leap of faith -- the ropes were replaced, so the story goes, only "when the Lord let them break,". In the words of UNESCO, "The net in which intrepid pilgrims were hoisted up vertically alongside the 373-meter cliff where the Varlaam monastery dominates the valley symbolizes the fragility of a traditional way of life that is threatened with extinction."
The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron – This is the largest of the monasteries located at Metéora. It was erected in the mid-14th century AD and was the subject of restoration and embellishment projects in 1483 and 1552. The building serves as the main museum for tourists. The Katholikon (main church), consecrated in honour of the Transfiguration of Jesus was erected in the middle of 14th c. and 1387/88 and decorated in 1483 and 1552.
The Holy Monastery of Varlaam , is the second largest monastery in the Metéora complex. It was built in 1541 and embellished in 1548. A church, dedicated to the Three Bishops, is in the Athonite type (cross-in-square with dome and choirs), with spacious esonarthex (lite) is surrounded by a dome. It was built in 1541/42 and decorated in 1548, while the esonarthex was decorated in 1566. The old refectory is used as a museum while North of the Church we can see the parekklesion of the Three Bishops built in 1627 and decorated in 1637 .
The Holy Monastery of Rousanou , was founded in the middle of 16th century AD and decorated in 1560. The Roussanou monastery is dedicated to the “Transformation of the Christ” and also to St. Barbara who is honored on the 4th of December. The monastery covers the entire terrace of a long-narrow rock and it is accessed by several steps and two bridges. The hike from “Psaropetra” is an easy treck under the shade of thick vegetation.
The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas - The monastery is built tall on the rock’s small footpring. It was founded in the 14th century and its catholikon was decorated skillfully by the famous Cretan painter Theofanis o Kris (Theofanis Strelitzas Bathas) in 1527. In the chappel of St. Anthony the 14th century wall paintings are still visible. S everal deserted monasteries are visible around Anapafsa monastery: Prodromos, Agia, Pantokratoras, and the "exoklisi" Panagias Doupianis.
The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen - This small church was built in the 16th century and decorated in 1545. This monastery rests on the plain rather than on a cliff. The catholikon of the monastery is dedicated to St. Haralambus and was built in the 19th century by the monk Ambrosios. It was damaged by the Nazis during WWII who believed it was harboring insurgents. It was abandoned. Nuns took it over and reconstructed it.
The Monastery of Holy Trinity - This monastery is on top of the cliffs. A gia Triada (Holy Tninity) offers the most spectacular view of Kalambaka, Penios River, and the Pindos mountains beyond. It is also the least visited of the Meteora monasteries thanks to the number of steps a visitor has to climb. It was first built in 1362 and rebuilt and expanded in 1475. The brother priests Antonios and Nicolaos decorated its walls in 1741, but the wall paintings inside the carved rock were painted in 1682
Meteora Rocks In the middle of northern Greece, these sandstone rocks rise abruptly from the ground. The rocks are composed of a mixture of sandstone and conglomerate. They were formed about 60 million years ago. The first people to inhabit Meteora were hermits, who lived in hollows and fissures in the rock towers, some of which soar 550 m above the plain. Today the Meteora is one of the largest and most important complex of monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. Your vote for Meteora Rocks as one of the new 7 wonders of Nature at: http://www.new7wonders.com will be highly appreciated